Get to Know our Runners

Each month, we'll highlight a different club member. Since this is the first in the series, we'll start with our President Michael Dahlman.

Michael Dahlman - Social Butterfly and Numbers Nerd

You know Michael Dahlman: the engaging guy who’s always organizing group runs at the Running Room; being a pacer at the Queen City marathon; dressing up in costumes during a race; always running in a group where you can hear the runners laughing. But Michael’s social side is balanced by a more introspective characteristic – what he calls “the numbers nerd side”. He pulls out his Smash Run technology to check on some of his answers to my questions. I stare at the bar graph showing one huge peak close to the y axis. “What’s that – your big run at the Canada Goose 24 hour?” (meaning 130 km at last year’s Canada Goose 24 hour). Michael clarifies – this graph is all his years of running, since 2012, showing over 17,000 km, and the huge spike is when he and friend Greg Chovin ran the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee, invented by Lazarus Lake of Barkley fame. They covered the 1000 km in 40 days, averaging 25 km per day. Of course the numbers didn’t start that big. Michael worked a desk job back in 2011, weighing 65 pounds heavier than his current weight, and being frustrated with his life. He hired a trainer, started lifting weights and doing 15 minutes on a treadmill. The treadmill time became 20 min, 30 min, and then he transitioned to running outside and became, as he says, “super obsessive”. But also, so happy.


Michael began organizing runners in 2015, working part time at Running Room, and helping train people and organize races. At the same time, he began pursuing his own goals –first tough mudder, first marathon, first ultra, first mountain trail race. Each of those got commemorated as a tattoo on his calves! Reviewing his tattoos is like hearing a story line of his racing history. On his left calf are a maple leaf, a mountain scene, and the Saskatchewan Legislative building. The three main scenes are surrounded by stars – little stars for half-marathons, big stars for ultras, and eight little orange dots for tough mudders. I ask about each of the main designs. Each of them is a first. The Leg building is from the Queen City medal when he ran his first marathon in 2016. The maple leaf represents his first ultra, when he ran 101 km at the Canada Goose when it was the National championship event. And there’s quite a story behind the mountain scene. Michael has gone on to run many stages of the famously tough Sinister 7, but in 2018, he ran the Golden Ultra three day event. Days 1 and 3 went fine, but day 2, he was close to the top of the 66 km on steep switchbacks, leading up to the Kicking Horse summit, but only 20 minutes left to meet the time cut-off. Unfortunately, his stomach did not want him to make the time cut-off. Non-stop puking forced him to quit. 


His right leg commemorates the marathons making up the Abbott world majors. So far, Michael has done Chicago, Berlin, and New York City. Berlin was especially celebratory as it was the first time he broke the four hour mark in the marathon. Michael continues to get steadily faster, setting PRs every year, and is continually plotting new ways to improve and make his Boston qualifying mark, as well as getting into Tokyo and London. The Sydney marathon, likely the next Abbott major, is Michael’s A race for 2024.


You’ll see Michael out on the roads all the time. Now that he’s a postie, and walking 50 km a week while carrying a pack, he’s built up stamina for high mileage. He’ll either be running with his pups, Emma and Tucker, or with a group of like-minded runners, plotting new ways to get faster, to get more people out running, and generally spreading good cheer. Make sure you say Hi!